‘Heuristic evaluation’ was pioneered by Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich in 1990. This is their definition of the term – Heuristic evaluation is a usability engineering method for finding the usability problems in a user interface design so that they can be attended to as part of an iterative design process. Heuristic evaluation involves having a small set of evaluators examine the interface and judge its compliance with recognized usability principles (the “heuristics”). Originally envisaged as a framework of principles to make ‘Web Design’ holistic; these principles are now applied in a wide variety of industries where design and creation of products are involved.
Ten Usability Heuristics
- Match between system and the real world
- User control and freedom
- Consistency and standards
- Error prevention
- Recognition rather than recall
- Flexibility and efficiency of use
- Aesthetic and minimalist design
- Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
- Help and documentation
This article will demonstrate how these principles can be applied in the design of effective eLearning solutions.
Why User Experience Matters?
One can have the best-written storyboards with the impressive videos and engaging assessments but if you do not focus on user/learner experience; then the purpose of your eLearning solution is defeated. Create learning solutions that are designed for humans; not robots and algorithms. Every customer is unique with a different set of needs, and requirement of a learning solution that targets a specific user/learner-persona. Invest adequate time in understanding the needs of the learner-persona, the actual requirements of the client, and the proposed learning outcome. Once this analysis is done then commence work on designing the learning solution.
Let the Learner Know
It is important that the learner knows what exactly he/she is getting into at the onset of a course. Define the learning outcomes and empower the learner by letting them access all relevant sections of the course with ease.
Of Clicks and Buttons
Have you ever downloaded an app-based game on your smartphone and found the game-controls to be perplexing? The same applies to eLearning solutions as well. It is important for the learner to figure out the controls to navigate between sections of a course and also know if any specific action has to be performed to continue learning. Efficient design focuses on creating a layout/interface that is easy to use and matches the demographic data of the learner’s persona. Even a simple element like the color, shape, or positioning of a button within a course can play a major role in course-completion rates.
Create a Consistent Experience
Have you ever felt let down by a book that you felt started one way and diverged into something completely else to leave you with a sense of a missed opportunity? It’s all about meeting expectations and creating a consistent experience. This applies to eLearning as well. The impetus is on the developer to create curiosity, sustain it, and offer learners a superlative learning experience that remains constant right from screen one to the final screen.
Accessibility and Adherence to Standards
There are specific requirements given by customers that eLearning developers are required to meet. This could be from a technical perspective such as running on a specific LMS/device to adherence to a specific language-based style-guide. Accessibility is not just about alt-text for images and on-screen transcripts. Truly accessible learning is created when user-experience, instructional design, and course-development unite and offer the user a unique learning experience.
Learning from Errors
Most often we observe learning solutions with assessments that just offer the learner the right and the wrong answer or a ‘Yes’/‘No’ or ‘True’/’False’ type of evaluation system. It is important to let the learner know why an answer is incorrect instead of just stating that an answer is right or wrong. Learning improves with appropriate feedback dissemination and allowing users to learn from their errors should be an important part of good eLearning design.
Integrating a User Guide
A well-designed eLearning course guides the learner at each stage to perform tasks appropriately and complete the eLearning course without any hitch. This could be implemented by an on-screen mascot or avatar that guides the learner or simple text-based instructions that simplify the learner journey.
Visualizing Heuristic Evaluation
If you still have queries about the topic then you can view this brief video by David Lazarus for clarity on Heuristic Evaluation. The next section describes how we applied the most viable and relevant elements of the principles of heuristic evaluation to craft the perfect learner journey in an eLearning course for one of our prestigious clients.
Crafting the Perfect Learner Journey the Origin Way
At Origin, crafting the perfect learner journey is an integral part of our ‘eLearning Design Philosophy’. Here is an example of a project that we worked on for a leading global supplier to rail, marine, mining, and drilling industries. The client is a pioneer in passenger and freight locomotives, employing more than 10,000 people and one of the renowned names in the Fortune 500 List. The client came to us with a specific requirement. They wanted to train their growing team of field service engineers who handled the maintenance of their locomotives. The challenge was to create and deploy an effective learning solution that cut down on training time and improved the quality of the learning. We crafted a unique learner journey and delivered an engaging learning solution that met all the objectives given to us by the client. To learn how we overcame this challenge and delivered customer delight; please read this comprehensive case study.
What are your thoughts on the topic and do you have any insights on crafting the perfect learner journey? Please share your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below.